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UK: new report lambasts ‘stop-go’ approach to funding road maintenance

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A new report from the Commons Public Accounts Committee has warned that the Department for Transport’s ‘stop-go’ approach to funding road maintenance is not effectively caring for England’s roads. Maintenance budgets were cut by £1.2 billion over four years beginning in April 2011, but MPs say that emergency funding of £1.1 billion has since been provided, almost undoing the budget cuts.

Chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, Margaret Hodge, said: "The department's piecemeal and stop-go approach to funding for road maintenance in recent decades has made it difficult for highways authorities to maintain roads cost-effectively.

"There has been too much reactive work in response to flooding and other events and not enough focus on preventative work that is less expensive in the long term."

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said that it is committed to tackling potholes and has set aside £24 billion in spending on the strategic road network up to 2021.

RAC Foundation director Stephen Glaister said that the ‘seeds of the current problem were sewn decades ago’, explaining that the rate of repair has fallen from every 12 years in the 1980s to every 25 years today.

Recently, it was reported that the Indian government has opted to use cement rather than bitumen for all new road projects throughout the country so long as the lifecycle cost for each project (analysed individually) is not more than 20% greater than that of a road constructed using bitumen. Despite being more expensive in the short-term, cement-based roads are more durable and cheaper to maintain.

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